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SK Telecom furthers Deutsche Telekom partnership to advance in-building 5G

Latest cooperation between leading German and Korean operators aims to create what companies believe will be major innovations, starting with improving 5G experiences

SK Telecom and Deutsche Telekom have now entered into an agreement to establish a joint venture designed to provide innovations in 5G technology that will include advanced in-building 5G experiences and complete the development of an advanced 5G/LTE dual-mode repeater.

Each partner will hold 50% of the equity in the joint venture, to be based in Germany, in which the two companies will aim to develop advanced 5G in-building solutions and develop market opportunities starting with Europe. In the mid-to-long-term, they will also aim to evaluate opportunities to cooperate in the areas of augmented reality and virtual reality services, mobile edge computing (MEC) and the app market.

Putting forward the rationale for developing in-building solutions, the firms cited research showing that the global market for in-building distributed antenna systems (DAS) is expected to be worth $10.33bn by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 10.1% between 2018 and 2023. Noting that there are not yet strong players dominating the market for 5G repeaters, the joint venture partners says that by combining their respective strengths they will be well-positioned to pioneer the market.

“Together with SKT we are able to develop new and innovative products which enhance customer experience,” said Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Höttges. “The first feedback from the repeater customer trial has shown the value of our partnership – for us, but more importantly, for our customers. We will start with the repeater, but this joint venture is aiming at a much higher goal: to create major innovations for both companies in the years to come.”

“The partnership between SKT and Deutsche Telekom is very meaningful at a time when the world is heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Park Jung-ho, CEO of SK Telecom. “The deepened bond between the two companies will play an important role as a bridge between Asia and Europe and lead us to new technologies that can bring greater value to humanity.”

SK Telecom and Deutsche Telekom have been working closely since 2016 to lead innovations in ICT, seeing the sharing of fixed and wireless technologies. In May 2020, the two firms announced a collaboration to expand the global 5G ecosystem by accelerating 5G deployment in Europe. As part of this, they constructed a Network Engineer Exchange Programme that will see them exchange their respective technological expertise once the situation with Covid-19 improves.

Under the terms of the new partnership, SKT will contribute the technology assets it has developed over the years to the joint venture.

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The company has already provided 5G/LTE dual-mode repeaters to support DT’s customer trial for in-building coverage carried out in eight different cities in Germany – namely Berlin, Hamburg, Bonn, Cologne, Munich, Darmstadt, Frankfurt and Leipzig – from August to October 2020. The firms said customer trial results have shown that users experienced significant improvement in 5G and LTE experience with this test device.

The creation of the joint venture is still subject to mandatory regulatory approval but is expected to close before the end of 2020.

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